Hopley resigns from second stint as Southland boss

Rugby Southland general manager Brian Hopley has resigned.

Hopley confirmed yesterday he was moving on and would finish in the new year. He declined to comment on the reason for his departure.

Hopley has been the boss at Rugby Southland in two different stints. He worked there in 2011-15 before he moved to Samoa to work with the Samoan Rugby Union. He returned to Southland at the start of last year.

Southland will also have a new coach next year when Dale MacLeod takes over from Dave Hewett.

Meanwhile, Southland is not giving up trying to stage an All Black test in Invercargill.

A group hatched the idea last year and made a proposal to New Zealand Rugby to host the All Blacks playing Argentina.

But problems at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill made it a non-starter.

Invercargill businessman Sean Bellew said yesterday the bid had been worked through and everything had lined up.

He had secured financial support from community funders and also private businesses and it was enough to cover the cost of hosting a test.

Bellew said under the process run by NZR, venues guaranteed a monetary figure for the test. Should the venue make more more money it kept the difference while if it fell short of the figure it had to meet the shortfall with NZR.

Bellew said everything was working well until issues with the stadium surfaced. Rugby Southland staff had to move out of the stadium offices in the middle of this year due to issues with the structure and since then there has been another report which put more than 1500 seats in the main stand out of use because of worries about their safety.

Bellew said the stadium needed to be fixed to get the test issue back under way but he was keen to help lead the proposal.

The Invercargill City Council will consider a report early next year into fixing the stadium.

He said Northland, Waikato and Southland were in the bid to get the Argentinian test next year. Waikato had won out and Hamilton will host the test on August 29.

Bellew said NZR had indicated to Southland to make a pitch at getting a test in 2021.

Invercargill did not want to compete with Dunedin for tests but Forsyth Barr Stadium was looking at getting a test earlier in winter while Invercargill was looking at hosting the test against Argentina, Bellew said.

Forsyth Barr Stadium will host Scotland on July 18 next year.

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